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The good and the bad of a multicloud strategy

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: A CIO's guide to cloud computing investments

Are two clouds better than one? For many organizations moving part or all of their IT operations into the cloud, they are. Three and four are even better.

Many organizations today follow a multicloud strategy — putting some workloads in Amazon Web Services, others in Microsoft Azure and yet others in IBM Bluemix or Google Cloud Platform. That way, they’re not locked in to one provider, said Donna Scott, an analyst at market research house Gartner.

“So they have options when they are deploying,” Scott said in a recent webinar on cloud computing for CIOs. “Or if they become unhappy with one provider or one provider decides to raise their rates by 50%, they have options — competitive options — to go after.”

Other companies use a multicloud strategy for more than just mitigating risk, sister site SearchCloudComputing reported late last year. They might put different applications in different providers’ clouds because of lower costs or better performance. That’s a shift that has happened as cloud has become more popular.

“Multicloud today is much less about resilience and hedging bets and more about matching workloads to services,” said Melanie Posey, analyst at market researcher IDC, in the article.

But there are pros and cons to a multicloud strategy. The big pro is choice, Scott said. With applications hosted by different cloud providers, a CIO’s eggs are in different baskets, “just in case your partnership with a vendor goes awry, they don’t meet service levels, they raise their prices.”

There a variety of negatives to consider, too, Scott said. Organizations need to learn how each cloud provider they’re working with works. The cloud computing industry still largely lacks standards, so providers have different capabilities and APIs.

And each may require different cloud product managers — a new role for many organizations — to determine what applications to keep on premises and what to move in the cloud and what specific services offered by the cloud provider to use.

So if a company has applications split among two cloud providers, Scott said, “you might find that one product manager can manage both; you might find you have to have more skills and expertise.”

To learn more about cloud product managers and other key cloud roles, read this SearchCIO tip.

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